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Advocates say CT legislature must act now to get in on hemp-growing business

SIMSBURY - President Trump has signed the 2018 Farm Bill and there is one notable change on it. It is now legal for hemp to be grown for commercial retail.

Connecticut farmers could potentially see a big payout if the legislature acts fast.

“If we're going to make this growing season we need to be done before February,” says CT Senator Cathy Osten.

Osten has filed four bills pushing for legalizing hemp farming in Connecticut. This is an issue that the Connecticut Farmer’s Bureau wants to get handled early on in the legislative session for 2019. Right now they know that the value of the crop is about $100,000 an acre. What they don’t know is the profitability of it.

“It’s a crop with tremendous potential”, says Don Tuller, President of the Connecticut Farmer’s Bureau and owner of Tulmeadow Farm in West Simsbury. “The production costs and costs of regulatory compliance are some things that are going to have to be addressed going forward.”

Connecticut farmers want to work with the state to pass legislation that is helpful for farmers to grow hemp.

“The goal would be to have a minimal cost to regulations,” says Osten. “They should not be hard to follow or hard to comply with. This should be something simple that allows people to grow on their land and on land that’s not being used a product that is well needed across this country.”

The question of whether it’s worth it for a farmer to grow hemp or not can only be answered after it’s tried. There is no question that there is a market for it.

“Industrial hemp is used in 50,000 products across the great spectrum of products that are necessary in business,” says Osten.

One of the big industries coming from hemp is cannabidiol oil, known as CBD, which has become wildly popular. A new report by cannabis industry analysts, the Brightfield Group, says the CBD market could hit $22 billion dollars by 2022.

“I’ve actually tried it in a suspension of coconut oil and I rubbed it on my knee and actually it does topically take away pain temporarily,” says Tuller.

If Connecticut Farmers are able to get ahead of the curve before the next growing season, it could potentially mean a big payout. 41 states already have rules and regulations in place.

“Traditionally, Connecticut is not known for really jumping on that so we’re hopeful that there is a certain sense of urgency because all of the other states are going to be jumping into this as well,” says Tuller.

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